Reciprocal Encounter was a curatorial project and publication by artist, curator and educator Tori Maas.
The following are copyrighted essay excerpts from the publication that included multisensorial print-based artworks by myself and other artists.
Tepknuset is a street art and indigenous literacy project that incorporates indigenous history, knowledges and language into the urban periphery.
Tepknuset (deb-ganoo-set) means moon in Mi'kmaq.
I illustrated three city animals, a squirrel, raccoon and pigeon. These animals are often viewed as nuisances and pests to the general public. I chose these animals to portray my project to draw upon imagery of what is oft called "The Indian Problem", something that everybody sees, but nobody wants to acknowledge in post-colonial, or neocolonial Canada. Decolonization means repatriation and reparations, however, decolonization isn't an ideology and must be based in tangible actions.
These city animals have a reputation of being resilient. Something uncomfortable resides here that demands attention. Indigenous survivance reminds us of a colonial failure that no one was prepared for. It also reminds that Indigenous-settler relations aren't going away anytime soon, nor are the treaties where this nation-state was built, even though the Canadian government would like to ignore them.
These wheat pastes and stickers directly create dialogue about land, language, consent and interruption.
I have researched the Indigenous languages spoken in this territory: Ojibwe (Anishnaabowin), Mohawk, Cree (and I am l'nu Mi’kmaq, so I added that although I'm off-territory) and have translated the animals' names in each language and affixed these names individually onto each sticker, separately.
This has a few distinct intentions: to harken a reference to resilient urban tkaronto animal totems , to create community as a means of cultural representation in the public sphere , to interrupt colonial spaces with indigenous words , to disrupt spaces where I cannot give my consent while walking through the city, and to see my heritage represented honorably and without regret.
The TRC recommendations link restoration of language to cultural healing and reconciliation. In Mareike Neuhaus’ Decolonizing Poetics of Indigenous Literatures, asserts that there is a major epistemological difference in the language structure of indigenous languages, which are primarily verb-based and holophrastic, meaning, that individual words serve as a clause, or story. This means that language must be included within any act of cultural restoration, lest a major source of cultural information be missing.
I want to expand tepknuset to include site-specific text based works that incorporate Toronto’s urban, colonial and cultural history into posters that refer to site, region and street-specific historical references.
My poem, Portages and Parallels was wheatpasted across the outside face of Bunker 2 Gallery, as an extension of the tepknuset project.